Huge Mezzotint Printmaking Project – Start to finish

hey welcome to diode press I’m Graham in today’s project we’re going to be creating two separate images and a total of 52 mezzotint prints so let’s begin by cutting down the pleats to size and sharpening our tools I was commissioned to create this project by a university professor at the rare-book school these prints and pleats are going to be used as hands-on examples of the mezzotint print process the students can then hold and interact with during a course on prints it was such an honor to be able to create this project and help share the mezzotint process [Music] the first portion of this project is a plate imprint showing the mezzotint rocking process itself there’s really no better way to demonstrate this than how Carol wax did in her book the mezzotint so I used a similar example here a typical mezzo template you would rock across the entire plate in each one of these directions for a total of 12 or 24 passes if you went back across them the other way but by skipping the 15 degree portion that you rocked in the previous pass it demonstrates the accumulation of rocking a crossing which you’ll see when I get to the printing I also Rock the second plate for the next part of this project I have a lot of videos detailing all these steps on the channel and you can find links to those down in the description box if you like to explore more [Music] [Music] to print the mezzotint rocking example plate I’m using a kueh ink from speedball it’s water cleanup and it prints a really nice dark matte finish that I really like in total this is going to be a 13 print edition and after this we can move on to the heart of the project the image plate [Music] [Music] I was given full freedom regarding the imagery that I used for this project since after all the Commission was about creating prints to show the process of a mezzotint itself so I tried to make something that didn’t distract too much but also shows the full range of the process there’s no shortage of amazing mezzotint imagery throughout art history to show what really can be done in this medium I chose to use a pocket watch as my imagery this watch was passed down from my grandfather so I figured if I’m gonna be spending a lot of time working on something looking at something that means a lot to me would be an added bonus and honor that history I started by photographing the watch and then did a bit of work in Photoshop flipping the image adjusting the lighting etc before I finally transferred it on to the plate and then scraped and burnished in the image as you scrape the burrs that were created by the rocking process or by burnishing them down smooth they hold less ink thereby creating the light portions of the image burrs that are left untouched they hold a ton of ink and they print the darkest most velvety blacks of all the printing processes [Music] there’s going to be three editions of 13 prints of this image the first edition is going to be at 25 percent completion and I’m using the seam of qu ink throughout and I’m printing on Hana mule 300 printmaking paper [Music] I leave a little bit of extra paper on one end just to make it easier to handle and then I tear it down and I have my first print as a reference image and I look at it to continually scrape and burnish the pleat working towards the finished image in reality and there the printing proofs a lot more frequently than just the three times that I show in the project but it lets them out to save some time here we have the second edition of prints the 75% set a lot of prints throughout history have the title engraved directly onto the plate so I was requested to do this as well on this print after scribing in a straight line I scraped off all the mezzo tape ground in that area and burnish the area down to a smooth mirror finish as scanned in the previous print onto the computer and played around with fonts and placements before transferring that back onto the plate and in my excitement I forgot to record it as I engraved [Music] I’m really working on the highlights and making the glass look like glass finally we’re at the hundred percent complete edition of thirteen prints so to quickly recap we have an edition of 13 prints of the mezzotint rockin pleat and three separate editions of the watch at three different levels of completion so the students can really see the entire process I also cleaned the pleats and sealed them up to avoid oxidation making them easier to inspect and handle in the class and in the next video we’re gonna make handmade cases to hold all of the separate prints and the copper plates and then the larger case to hold them all together so keep an eye out for that one and I’ll see you next time thanks for watching to keep up with the videos when they’re posted make sure to subscribe to the channel and if you want to help support this channel you can check out the diode press patreon page where I post behind the scenes photos as well as other patron rewards thanks

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